On a recent trip to Boston I spent a couple of hours walking around the Boston Public Library on Copley Square. As I circled this incredible building I was continually reminded how we have lost our ability to elevate the everyday. In the past craftsmen were employed to use their skills to make the mundane magnificent. Take the extraordinary murals here at the library for example (Sargent’s are the most famous here, but there are also Puvis de Chavannes and my personal favorite, Edwin Austen Abbey’s Quest for the Holy Grail series), civic leaders/wealthy people didn’t think twice about commissioning artists and craftsmen to enrich their lives and their surroundings. And by enriching their own, they enriched us all.
And what do we have now? Buildings thrown up in the minimum amount of time possible with (generally) the least expense. We assemble furniture from cheap materials. We buy items knowing they have a limited time span before they get dumped in the landfill. We have things, and things, and more things, but nothing of value. When I walk through a museum and I see all the incredible objects like the hand carved 15c wooden bellows at the Metropolitan Museum that someone (usually a nameless someone who Just belonged to the local artisans guild) lovingly decorated/spun/wove/carved I wonder what it is that we will be saving and passing down through the generations. Will the history of craftsmanship just be one long blank from the year 2000 on?
This is one of the reasons I love knitting so much. First and foremost, I love the feeling I get from making something with my own hands. Someone who says to me “But you can buy it for so much cheaper (I get that a lot with socks) just doesn’t get it. Secondly, I feel like I am creating something that has permanence. Okay, maybe not all those handknit socks, but baby blankets and wee baby hats and sweaters, adult fisherman and fair isle sweaters (all sweaters for that matter), lace shawls, all can become heirlooms that get passed from generation to generation. And let’s face it, you’re not just passing down the object itself but the love that went into making it. It’s a little piece of that knitter going forward through time.
So keep it up knitters! Ours may be among the few concrete things that future generations will have by which to remember this millennium.
Julie, WY's Do-bee and store wordsmith.